I think it should be important to everybody.”
Him: “I mean, it’s fantastic. It’s why we’re here.”
Me [In a choked, barely audible whisper]: “By ‘here,’ do you mean planet Earth…or this sofa? And by ‘we,’ do you mean…” [Coughing fit]
In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably clarify a few points.First, I am half naked because I am here not just to interview Dundas but to have him fit me for a dress—my editor at W having proposed that the best way to get to know the designer’s work is to test-drive it. Gamely, Dundas has pulled a selection of dresses for me to choose from, and proposed that I wear the one we both like best to the party later tonight.
Second, I am petrified because Dundas’s Pucci creations are not only heart-stoppingly beautiful but also traffic-stoppingly revealing and I am a modest soul, constitutionally averse to—loathsome phrase alert—“flaunting my curves.” To me, the only nightmare scarier than squeezing myself into a garment that reveals every inch of my anatomy is attempting said squeezing in front of a man who puts models and celebrities into his clothes for a living.
Third, I am distracted by Dundas’s abs because, well, because he’s an unnervingly gorgeous, six-foot-two Nordic beach bum with a lithely muscled surfer-dude physique, blond tresses tumbling loose around a chiseled jaw, a smattering of tattoos, and the tawniest, most even tan ever to grace Scandinavian skin. When asked how, hailing from one northern locale and living in two others—Paris and Florence—he maintains his sun-kissed glow, he replies, “I’m building this house in Greece, and there’s a fantastic hippie beach where they go nude nearby.…” Help!
Dundas is talking about sex because “animal instinct”—a pet term of his—is fundamental to the success he has been enjoying at Pucci’s helm. Since its founding by the late Florentine Marquess Emilio Pucci in 1947, the house has been synonymous with haute-luxe resort wear—its psychedelic caftans and shifts serving as vacation staples for Liz Taylor, Jackie O, and other jetsetters of legend. When Dundas arrived from the top job at Emanuel Ungaro in 2008, however, he concluded that the Pucci girl needed “a touch of rock ’n’ roll, and danger and sexiness as well,” so he has been “respectfully disrespecting” the brand with brazenly body-conscious silhouettes that owe more to Saint-Tropez nightclubs than to lunches on Skorpios.
As a result, the label has become a go-to for pop stars, screen sirens, and style mavens wanting to burn up the red carpet. To Dundas, unleashing his clients’ inner sex goddess follows logically from his own passionate admiration for the female form. “It’s not that I think, Oh, I need to make the dress sexy,” he says. “It’s that the body is just so beautiful to me. The same way that when you make love to somebody many times, you notice different parts of the body, and you celebrate them.”